Emergency Department Patients Support the Use of Combat Medics in Their Clinical Care

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Schauer SG, Mabry RL, Varney SM, Howard JT 15(2). 74 - 78 (Journal Article)

Background: As US military combat operations draw down in Afghanistan, the military health system will shift focus to garrison- and hospital-based care. Maintaining combat medical skills while performing routine healthcare in military hospitals and clinics is a critical challenge for Combat medics. Current regulations allow for a wide latitude of Combat medic functions. The Surgeon General considers combat casualty care a top priority. Combat medics are expected to provide sophisticated care under the extreme circumstances of a hostile battlefield. Yet, in the relatively safe and highly supervised setting of contiguous US-based military hospitals, medics are rarely allowed to perform the procedures or administer medications they are expected to use in combat. This study sought to determine patients' opinions on the use of combat medics in their healthcare. Methods: Patients in hospital emergency department (EDs) were offered anonymous surveys. Examples of Combat medic skills were provided. Participants expressed agreement using the Likert scale (LS), with scores ranging from "strongly agree" (LS score, 1) to "strongly disagree" (LS score, 5). The study took place in the ED at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Fort Polk, Louisiana. Surveys were offered to adult patients when they checked into the ED or to adults with other patients. Results: A total of 280 surveys were completed and available for analysis. Subjects agreed that Combat medic skills are important for deployment (LS score, 1.4). Subjects agreed that Combat medics should be allowed to perform procedures (LS score, 1.6) and administer medications (LS score, 1.6). Subjects would allow Combat medics to perform procedures (LS score, 1.7) and administer medications (LS score, 1.7) to them or their families. Subjects agreed that Combat medic activities should be a core mission for military treatment facilities (MTFs) (LS score, 1.6). Conclusion: Patients support the use of Combat medics during clinical care. Patients agree that Combat medic use should be a core mission for MTFs. Further research is needed to optimize Combat medic integration into patient healthcare.

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